amo.says

my life in my words


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I Won’t Back Down

Parachute Fans: Jes, Devon, Amanda, Jenny, and I

When one embarks on a cross-country trip, the last thing you would want to hear when you landed was that your father had a heart attack and was being rushed to the hospital. However, it happened for me this past Friday. I must admit that if it wasn’t for my friends and family—the amazing support system I’ve been blessed to have—my trip to the East Coast would have been wrought with despair, worry, and anger. Thanks to an incredible amount of encouraging responses on my Facebook wall, texts, Facebook messages, e-mails, Twitter Messages, and phone calls, my heart regained focus and I was able to walk into the weekend with a sense of balance and peace. He is doing better now, stabilized, and taking it easy as we prepare for his open heart surgery in 6 weeks. After getting the all-clear that I didn’t need to cancel my weekend plans to fly back to Texas, I was ready to shake off the panic and have a fun weekend!

I call this look the "WillyJ 1234"

When I met up with Jenny, Amanda, Jes, and Devon in Baltimore, I was ready for some fun and for an exciting weekend with some amazing new friends who shared a love of the quality music of Parachute with me! We had planned, and planned, and planned some more, and now it was time to just enjoy the ride! We started off the day in Baltimore with some mexican food and lots of laughs and just spent time getting to know each other more. Later in the evening, I was honored to be able to join Jenny for our interview with Parachute backstage at Ram’s Head Live! Here’s that video:

The show was amazing and the guys rocked the crowd, as they always do! One of the things I didn’t really appreciate was all the attitude coming from those who were up front with Devon and I. We were having fun singing along and dancing, and the girls behind us were giving us death glares. Clearly they were here to see the Plain White T’s because if they knew of Parachute, they would know that they were in for some bumpin’ jams to sing and dance along to. Also, there was a mom next to me who held up her hand to protect herself from my dancing, which was completely contained in my personal space. She also gave me a look like she was irritated. Let’s just say, the Baltimore crowd was nowhere near as fun or friendly as the ones I’d experienced in Spokane, Seattle, and Dallas. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten such an accumulation of death glares in my life. But it’s no big deal because I was still able to have fun and live in the moment partying it up at the show! My friend once asked me if I ever got sick of seeing Parachute perform so many times. That’s a no-brainer: NEVER!

On the front row in Philly! Photo by: independentphilly.files.wordpress.com

What made this trip extra special was the people I got to share it with. We had so many fun experiences! One of my favorites was in Baltimore while we were waiting to meet up with any street-teamers who might show up to help us pass out fliers before the show. We were all hanging out at a fountain near the venue, and since it was empty, I decided to climb inside it and have some fun playing around. I climbed up on the cement structure inside it and then a random girl in a boat of a car pulled up in front of the fountain and yelled, “Get out of the pool!!” And we all lost it and laughed as I responded, “It’s not a pool! It’s a fountain!” I’m pretty sure the adrenaline rush I get from traveling and exploring new places enables me to bring my shenanigans like that to different cities I visit, where most people would rather mind their “P’s and Q’s” and act different from their norm. Or perhaps it’s because I grew up “Keeping Austin Weird.” The world may never know.

In rock 'n' roll heaven at Bluebond Guitars

Our time in Philly was fun because we got to explore more of the downtown area and stop in some fun shops. We also got to see different members of the band walking around in the area and stopped to chat with them for a bit. The crowd that night at the show was MUCH more fun! We had gotten to meet some other Parachute fans while we waited in line and we talked about all of our show experiences and what we loved about the band. Jenny, Devon, and myself were up front for the show and we got to stand next to some other Parachute fans who shared our excitement for the show and it was great getting to enjoy the show with them! During the latter half of the show, I got to hang out with Amanda, Jes, and Jen in the bar area while Devon took a nap on one of the nearby couches. There was a lot of dancing and laughing going on in our vicinity so we partied the night away. After the show, I got to meet some more amazing fans and friends of the band and we even got to do some singing and dancing on the sidewalk (mainly to stay warm though)!

Parachute's trusty steed, Steve Perry II waiting outside the TLA in Philly

Another highlight (or low light, rather) happened after that show. I had a craving for some coffee. I really wanted a latte and none of the latte-serving establishments were open, so we headed back to the Hilton hotel we were staying at to see if I could order one from room service. When I called the front desk, they said the best bet would be to brew the coffee in our room. It was Lavazza coffe, which is quite possibly one of my least favorite brews, but I was desperate so I made some. About 5 minutes after tasting the nasty concoction, I realized it was decaf—not what I wanted. So I called down to the front desk to see if they could run up some caffeinated coffee bags to our room. They said they would and we waited. About 20 minutes had passed, and there was still no knock on our door. So I called again and got a busy ring tone. Then I decided to call Room Service directly and no one answered. We waited about 30 minutes longer and then I decided to call the front desk again. The agent said they would send one up and after waiting another hour, we decided to just forego the coffee and get some rest instead. That’s negative 1,000 points for you, Paris!

Jenny, Devon, and I before Devon headed home

We all had to say our bittersweet goodbyes the next day, but agreed that we should do something like it again sometime. It was exhilarating to get to spend a weekend away having fun times and enjoying great music with people who shared an affinity for Parachute! I was able to simultaneously make great new friends, make it past one of the most stressful events in my personal world, and still remain in one piece. The bonus was getting to eat a legit Philly cheesesteak at Jim’s Steaks before I left to come back to Seattle!

Me, Amanda, Jenny, and Jes before I had to head home

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Midnight Train To Georgia

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For the record, I think all bus tunnels should have these vendors in them. How fun!

I’m on my way to the East Coast for a little mini-vacay! I’ll be spending the weekend in Baltimore and Philly to attend 2 Parachute concerts and hang out with some great people.

In order to make it in to Baltimore early so that I have time to actually breathe before the weekend festivities start, I am taking the red eye out of Seattle. I know it’s a crazy flight, but luckily I can totally sleep through the flight. Also, I’ll have some time to kill so I can get projects done before meeting up with my fellow Parachute fans/friends Jenny, Devon, Amanda, and Jess! Once I meet up with them, my time and energy will be focused on them and the shows we’ll be attending.

This trip is really special because I’ve never done anything like it before. I mean, I’ve definitely traveled to concerts before but this will be my first time traveling across the country solo to meet up and stay overnight with people I haven’t spent large chunks of my life with. I’m excited for our adventures and all the fun we will have!

Some people have called this trip crazy and dangerous, and maybe it is, but I couldn’t be more thrilled. I have come to realize how much freedom and opportunity I have in this season of my life, and I don’t want to live it under the umbrella* of “shoulda, coulda, woulda.” I don’t think anyone should. So ready or not, adventure, here I come!

* under my umbrella-ella-ella eh eh 😉


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House of Love

Happy Day After Valentine’s Day Day! I know, I know, it’s yet another one of those rarely discussed holidays. I hope everyone had a fantastic Valentine’s Day though. I love that special day of love because it’s one of those times where people are a little nicer, a little sweeter, a little more thoughtful, and take time out to celebrate someone else.

One thing that’s really fun is seeing everyone get all gussied up* in their nicest outfits for their dinner dates. Luckily for me, finding that PERFECT outfit for the evening was super easy thanks to Nordstrom!

See? It's an outfit that truly expresses love. It just screams, "I love you so much, I'm willing to wear a giant bow and a necklace to prove it!"

I kid, I kid. I did however, wear my red riding hood cape in honor of Valentine’s Day!

 

It was cute passing the kids on the street and seeing them smile as Little Red Riding Hood walked by. I’m pretty sure the adults just thought I’d lost a bet or something. I decided to spend the evening shopping and I was pretty excited with some of the great deals I got! I love shopping on Valentine’s Day because the stores are less crowded, and if there’s one thing that turns me off from shopping, it’s the mass crowds of hostile people.

As a kid, I really enjoyed handing valentine’s to my friends and family. Now that I’m older, and miles away from home, I have to rely on technology to do that for me. Of course there is always the option to mail out valentines, but the fact that I can’t even send Christmas cards out on time kind of lets you know why I don’t think it’s entirely worthwhile to do—all of my Valentine’s cards would arrive on Halloween. Being miles from home, the odds of me getting valentines are slim to none. However, my housemate and one of my co-workers still felt free to share the love!

 

Instead of sending valentines in the mail, I decided to design some of my own and send them either via Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail! Here are some of my faves:

 

This one refers to an inside joke between 2 of my old roommates

 

For my best friend because we always quote Steel Magnolias in conversation with each other

 

For my fellow Parachute fan friends

 

For my friend who loves watching Big Bang Theory

 

* That’s right, I’m from the South. 😉


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I’m For You

Continuing in the spirit of Valentine’s Day [or VD as I like to call it 😉 ] I believe it’s time that I let you all know that this morning I ELOPED!

He must've been REALLY amazing 😉

Shortly thereafter I had to pay $10, 000 for a new house though, so there’s that. One of the things I love most about my life here in Seattle is the group of Junior High and High School students I get to hang out with on Sunday mornings. Between 14 kids and 3 leaders, 2Twelve (our youth ministry), is never quiet, never still, and has become a great environment for learning practical ways to work together to fuse our faith and life. When I started volunteering as the youth pastor for 2Twelve two years ago, we had 3 students consistently and we met in a small room that also served as a book storage area and conference room. We barely had room to move around and I had to fight distractions of books, the giant board meeting table, and lack of light in the room. Now that we are bigger, we have moved into a bigger room and are able to do more, breathe more, and just have a lot more fun.

The biggest challenge for me comes in planning out the curriculum and maximizing resources so that the students are able to get knowledge and practical tools that will help them on their own levels for the upcoming week, and ideally, the rest of their lives. Today we started one of my favorite series. It’s called THE GAME OF LIFE and the focus is on teaching accountability as Christians—both what it takes to have a beneficial relationship with someone who you can be accountable with and what it takes to be the one who provides accountability for someone else.

Today the teaching was on TRUST—what it means to trust someone as well as how to be a trustworthy person. It never ceases to amaze me when I hear the countless stories that these students share about how both their peers and adults have hurt them because they were untrustworthy. One thing that I had been challenged with earlier this week while I was preparing, was how quickly our trust in others can diminish as we get older. In class today, I referred to a time when I was babysitting a little girl and she wanted to put a complex toy together and as I watched her struggle, I asked her if I could help. She responded, “No. I want to do it!” So I let her, and I watched her get more and more frustrated and watched her face change from determination to anger. I gently asked her again, “Are you sure you don’t want my help?” She looked up at me, handed me the toy and said, “I need your help.” It only took asking her one more time and she was ready to get help. That’s rarely the case with most people I talk to nowadays, and I’ll admit, it’s one of the things I struggle with a lot as well. I find that I’m always ready and willing to help, but rarely am I the one to ask for it until I get to the point of frustration. But I was challenged this week to let more people in, so I was able to have more conversations with friends and let them in on some stuff I’ve been dealing with lately. It was such a relief to let them in and let myself out of all the stress and worry going on in my head and heart. The best thing about it was that I was able to come face to face with some areas where my stubbornness was preventing me from being happy and able to enjoy where I am in life.

This morning as I was getting the room all set up for the lesson, one of my new students was helping me and she said, “Oh I’m not worried. I trust you.” And it made me stop and think about the sincerity she said it with and I told her, “You know what’s funny? That’s actually what we’re talking about today. We’re going to be talking about being trustworthy.” And she responded, “That’s cool. But I mean it, I trust you.” And I teared up because to me, that is probably one of the highest honors that could ever be given. It made me realize how lucky I am that as a young adult, I’m constantly surrounded by peers and older people who accept me as I am and help me become a better person. And I love that I’m able to speak life into the students that God has brought to 2Twelve. They remind me of the responsibility I have to continually learn, grow, and give. As much as I appreciate that they leave me love notes and give me big hugs on Sunday, I appreciate more the fact that they feel safe enough to trust our class with stories from their own life experiences.

Of course . . . getting to have fun playing games on Sunday mornings is a bonus too! 😉


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It Only Takes A Moment

Have you ever had a moment where you’ve just fallen so completely in love that the world around you seems to stop spinning? Your heart beats so much stronger. Your attention is caught and you just can’t bear to glance away? It’s almost as if your heart has found the one thing that would make it complete and all of a sudden you know in the deepest part of your heart that you have found THE ONE. The absolute ONE. All your life you’ve been searching desperately, wrought with anticipation of how you would respond if you were ever given the chance to move forward with that experience. And it’s here. The moment is yours. Well, this past weekend in Spokane, I had that moment.

And ladies and gentlemen of the interwebz community, let me just tell you, it only took a moment. Yes, a moment. Just like this:

. . .

. . .

. . .

. . .

That’s right—a moment. That’s how long it took for me to fall absolutely head-over-heels in love with this jacket:

A jacket made just for me

 

Isn’t it GORGEOUS?? I wish each and every one of you could have been in the store when I saw this gem. Last Saturday (the morning after the Parachute concert), Heather and I went walking around downtown Spokane at some of the boutiques and antique shops just to get some fun window shopping in. When I saw this jacket, I was stunned and stood wide-eyed in marvel at this beauty. I tried it on THREE times. THREE times. On and off. On and off. On and off. I was smitten! I thought to myself, “If there was ever a jacket made just for me, this was it!”

 

I couldn't resist the beauty of it

 

Everything about it was just so wonderful . . . except the price. 😦 It wasn’t super expensive—probably a steal at $80 but I knew tax would be included and in Washington state, tax is ridiculously high (at least compared to what I would pay in Texas). Also, as you can see, I’m a bit bigger in the bust area and would need to get it altered and even then, there was a chance I might not be able to fit it perfectly. Technically I had the money, but after traveling expenses and having to buy another ticket to the concert because I lost my original, it all seemed so overwhelming and I knew it probably wasn’t the wisest thing to spend money on. But even as we were leaving I kept looking back at it.

Heather encouraged me to walk away and know that I could come back at the last minute and snatch it up if by the time we were leaving I had felt securely compelled to buy it. That moment never came and instead I just stored in my mind the beauty of that jacket knowing that one day (hopefully in the near future) I’d be back at that store, or contacting the designers to get that jacket and add it to my collection permanently.

I don’t really consider myself to have a great sense of fashion, but it was still fun to go around to the different boutiques and enjoy the different styles of clothing and jewelry. These are two other pieces that I fell in love with on our window shopping excursion (though not even nearly as much as I fell in love with that jacket):

I know it's big and gaudy, but I just love it!

A Roaring 20s inspired dress that I just kept "oohing" and "ahhhing" at


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The Show Goes On

 

Kit, Alex, Will & Nate from Parachute

When I heard that Parachute was playing a show at The Knitting Factory in Spokane, just 4 and a half hours away from Seattle, I was overwhelmed with excitement! I knew I would already be seeing them twice on the east coast regardless of whether or not I made this trip, but deep in the recesses of my heart I wanted mountains moved so I would be able to go. I threw the idea around to a couple of friends, and the more I talked about it, the more impractical and improbable it seemed to me. However, I got a call one night that changed things. My friend Heather called and left a voice mail saying, “Hey, if you still really want to go to that Parachute concert, you can borrow my car . . . but there is one stipulation to using my car. Give me a call back and we can talk it over.” So I called her back the next morning and she said, “I totally don’t mind you borrowing my car, but the one stipulation is that I get to come with you!” Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), my heart skipped a beat and I got all giddy inside! Not only was I going to get to go see Parachute in Spokane, but I would get to bring one of my amazing friends with me! We made our plans, got our tickets to the show, and counted down the remaining days to our exciting road trip to see Parachute.

 

Alex & Will from Parachute

Friday morning we left around 8:30 and made a pit stop at Cupcake Royale to get coffee for the road, and cupcakes to give to the band at the show. We then set out on our 4 ½ hour road trip adventure. We talked about everything under the sun and even made up some funny songs along the way—there was NEVER a dull moment in that car—the shenanigans were in full force the whole way there! When we finally got to Spokane, we pulled into the gas station and all of a sudden, I started to lose my voice. We both noticed it and were kind of concerned. We took naps to recuperate from the drive and to try to rest my voice. When I woke up, my voice was still on a downward spiral.

 

Kit French from Parachute

We got to The Knitting Factory early and had dinner there so that we could get early entry to the show. I actually lost my ticket twice (yes, twice!) and eventually had to buy a new one at the box office so that I could get in because we couldn’t find my original ticket anywhere! We were able to get my ticket and beat the rush of the general admission crowd to get a spot right in front of the stage. We were expecting Miggs, one of the other openers, to jump on stage first, and were pleasantly surprised when Kit, Johnny, Alex, and Nate (from Parachute) came out onstage ready to play and open the show. We later found out that Miggs had to cancel that night due to illness, so Parachute played an extra long set for us!

 

Kit, Johnny, and Alex from Parachute

The crowd went WILD when Parachute started playing the intro to WHITE DRESS and grew even louder when Will took the stage to belt out the opening lines. During the beginning of the song both Will and Johnny acknowledged me and waved to me from the stage and Heather looked at me like, “Woah! Did that seriously just happen?” I felt so honored and excited! It was so great to see my boys again and dance and sing (well, lip sync, thanks to my voice being gone) along to the mix of old and new songs from the band I love! One of my favorite parts of the show was hearing them play the new song, KISS ME SLOWLY (from their upcoming album), which Will co-wrote with Lady Antebellum. It is by and far one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard.

 

Then, during GHOST, Will came out into the crowd and the best way I know to describe what happened next is for you to imagine that a giant palette of fresh meat had been dropped in the middle of a pack of starving lions on the Serengeti. It was a scene right off of the Discovery Channel—you couldn’t even see Will, just the mass amount of girls enveloping him. Okay, okay, I think I saw his hand come out once. The only thing Heather and I could do was watch from the front and laugh at the craziness happening before our eyes. The bonus for me was at the end of their set when Johnny threw one of his drum sticks right to me! I also got to meet and talk a bit to the fellow Parachute fans that were standing next to and behind us, and we talked about how excited we were that we got to see them. All in all, the band was amazing and brought the high-energy rock to the crowd!

 

Will Anderson from Parachute

After their set, we went out to the main hall to get some air and to get some Parachute merchandise before the big rushing crowd at the end of the show. We got to hang out and catch up a bit with Chris Jones (Parachute’s Tour Manager) and gave him the cupcakes to share with the guys backstage. We also got to meet and chat for a bit with Aileen, the merch manager for the Plain White T’s. Both Chris and Aileen were so gracious and kind. After I picked up my pre-order of Parachute’s new album, THE WAY IT WAS, we headed back into the auditorium and danced along to the rest of the Plain White T’s set. When the show was over, we passed out promotional flyers for Parachute’s new album and then headed out to the meet and greet line.

 

I tried my best to save my voice for the meet and greet line after the show, because I wanted to be sure to say hey to the guys, catch up with them, and let them know how much I appreciated and was proud of them! We got to see each of them except Alex (bass player) because he had stepped out before we got to the end of the line, which I was super bummed about. We got autographs and took photos and really just had a great time chatting for a while with each of them before they closed down the venue and we headed back to the hotel. My voice was almost completely gone by the time we got back to the hotel, but it was totally worth it to be able to use the last bit of it to let the band know how much I loved them!

Pictures of Heather and I with Parachute:

Note: These are our pics with each of the band members except for Kit and Alex. We were unable to get one with Alex and in the one we took with Kit, we accidentally cut most of his head out of the picture because we’re short and he’s really tall and we tried to be cute and do the snapshot of ourselves instead of getting someone else to take the pic.

 

Me, Will, and Heather

Heather, Johnny, and I

Heather, Nate, and I


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My Kinda Party

You and me both, Michael. You and me both.

I interrupt this busy work day to share some office shenanigans from me and my co-workers:

CO-WORKER #1: I’m really inspired by your friendships and the way you build meaningful relationships with people!

ME: Well I think I’m really blessed to have the friends I have here in Seattle.

CO-WORKER #1: I’ll bet! You must be doing something right.

ME: I’ve discovered that if you pay people to be your friends, it’s a lot easier.

CO-WORKER #2: Speaking of, you’re behind in your payments for OUR friendship.

ME: Ehhhh . . . could I interest you in another I.O.U.?

I think the only thing better than working in a job where I do what I love is the ability to have co-workers who aren’t afraid to jump into a moment of shenanigans with me and contribute their own witty retorts! I love my workplace!